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Vertu Motors ‘book club’ stuck on crucial chapter, says CEO Robert Forrester

Vertu Motors chief executive, Robert Forrester

A Vertu Motors ‘book club’ which helps to develop the PLC’s leadership and strategic direction is stuck on a challenging chapter as it targets a pinpoint focus on customer retention in 2022.

Chief executive Robert Forrester said that a culture of reading books at the AM100 car retail group, which published record annual financial results yesterday (May 11) sees directors explore a business-focussed text in unison.

But as it focusses on its 2022 business priorities of cost management, maximisation of conversion of enquiries to revenues and customer experience to drive retention, Forrester conceded that their progress had stalled.

“What we’re talking about when we say we want to drive retention is customer experience,” said Forrester.

“Do we currently pay enough attention to trying to ensure that we keep the customers that we’ve got?

“It’s proved an intense area of exploration for us. We’ve been stuck on chapter 39 of a particular book for some months now.”

Forrester credited his “book club” as being “a fantastic way of thinking and changing the culture and the mindset” of the business.

In its 2021/22 financial results the group outlined how it had improved its omnichannel retail journey to offer customers a broad spectrum of ways to buy cars or access the group’s aftersales services.

Just 900 of the 89,000 used cars it sold in 2021 were done so in completely online, however, and Forrester remains convinced that the vast majority of car buyers want face-to-face advice and a test drive.

Whatever the sales channel, Vertu is keen to drive its brand profile and, following his 2021 assertion that “” Forrester was pleased to see the results of a recent YouGov survey which placed Bristol Street Motors as the top ranked car retailer by public awareness in England and Wales.

“Profile and brand awareness is the battle ground right now,” Forrester told AM.

“We don’t have the budget of some of our competitors when it comes to marketing, but that’s why we have to ‘box clever’.”

Vertu is currently looking to recruit a new head of data and a head of SEO in a bid to drive its exposure.

The 2021 recruitment of former Auto Trader franchise brand director Chris Penny as its new group strategic projects director, meanwhile, should help to drive further efficiencies in its online retail processes.

Forrester said: “One of his priorities will be driving through sales digitalisation to make part-exchange the same on the wb as it is in the dealership.

“He will also be ausing his analytics skills to ensure that our data algorithm is fit for purpose and using his general intellect to help us operate better.”

Forrester added: “If there’s one thing I’ve learnt over the years is that businesses need bright people.

“Chris has already recommended several books to me, and they’ve all been very good.”

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